Images showing thousands of climate refugees adapting to new homes in Bangladesh gives insight into the impact of rising global emissions.
Extreme weather has robbed many of the country’s citizens of their homes and livelihoods, forcing them to migrate away from the Indian border and head east to Mongla, AP reports.
While the Bangladeshi city is providing jobs for the new arrivals and has creating infrastructure to mitigate the impact of rising sea levels, there are growing warnings Australia is yet to sufficiently prepare.
Following unprecedented flooding and bushfires, questions are being raised domestically about the cost of relocating populations away from disaster affected areas in Australia.
Acquisition of flood-ravaged properties in the NSW town of Lismore alone would total around a billion dollars according to one estimate.
With 143 million people to be displaced by climate change over the next three decades, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate, the cost of rehoming such vast numbers will be significant.
Call to support Pacific nations: 'Australia sees itself as an other'
Climate and energy director at independent think-tank Australia Institute, Richie Merzian, warns the number of people displaced across the Indo-Pacific’s low lying nations will be in the millions.
“It is a serious concern. And it's crazy to think Australia is still ignoring climate change through a national security lens and human security lens,” he said.
As the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuels, he argues Australia must take responsibility for its impact on its neighbours.
This could involve following New Zealand’s example of investing in nations to help them adapt at home to the problem.
“They’re targeting the Pacific because the Kiwis see themselves as brethren,” he said.
“Australia sees itself as an other. Even as much as it says it's part of the Pacific family, it'd be hard to to find someone in the Pacific who agrees with that.”
Australia lagging behind New Zealand on climate refugee decisions
The tiny Pacific nation of Kiribati has purchased land in Fiji to serve as a refuge from rising levels, and is receiving “technical assistance” from China to adapt it.
Most Pacific nations have not given up the fight to convince developed nations like Australia to significantly cut emissions to prevent global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
If this isn’t achieved, salinisation will impact fresh water reserves as sea levels rise, leaving many island nations unable to grow crops and feed themselves.
This will likely occur long before rising tides destroy the coral atolls themselves.
New Zealand has offered visas to climate affected populations, however these have been widely rejected by Pacific nations who are focused on survival.
Australia is yet to entertain offering similar visas and has a history of discouraging refugees from entering its borders.
"(The issue) is not visible right now, but we should be paying attention," Mr Merzian said.
"We should be creating the structures and putting the processes in place to deal with it, and we should be using it to motivate us to take more climate action."
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